Justice Blackmun wrote the majority opinion in Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was judicial activism of the boldest kind (though technically it only nullified state laws) and for many Americans ranks as the most notorious of all decisions by the high court. It was the decision by which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional laws in 46 states which prohibited various sorts of elective abortions in the first six months of pregnancy. Justice Blackmun claimed that the question of abortion was covered under an alleged “right of personal privacy” of the mother to dispose of what was allegedly a part of her body. He admitted that “The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy.:” But, “In a line of decisions . . . , the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy does exist under the Constitution. . . .” Moreover, this “right of privacy . . . is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” That a state was intruding upon a woman’s right to privacy when it prohibited elective abortions in early stages of pregnancies was apparently clear enough to Blackmun and his majority.
It me be supposed that the prohibitions against the taking of life without due process of law would have brought the Supreme Court down on the side of the state laws prohibiting abortion. But no, according to Blackmun’s view, this matter of whether or not an unborn infant was such a “life,” entitled to constitutional protection, was too muddled to decide. Blackmun wrote, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, Philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not is a position to speculate as to the answer.” Instead of tackling head-on the issue of when life begins, Blackmun retreated to a doctrine of stages of the development of the embryo. These were divided into three, with each corresponding period of pregnancy labeled as a “trimester.” During the first “trimester,” the Supreme Court solemnly announced, the state could not interfere with the “right” of the female to abort her child-in-embryo. This “right” extended through the second “trimester” as well, though the state might do such things prescribe who might perform abortions. During the third “trimester” a state was free to prohibit abortions. The distinction the Court relied on was that after the sixth month, the infant could frequently survive if separated from his or her mother. . . .
The propagandized and indoctrinated American people—taught to believe that every utterance of the Supreme Court was the “law of the land”—were slow to mobilize against this newest assault upon their ways. Nor did they have any ready means at hand to state their horror and to deal with the perpetrators of it. The liberal-dominated media accepted the decision as another victory for women’s rights. A further decision in 1976 made this aspect of it decision even clearer. The Court held “that states could not require either the consent of the husband, or—if the woman was an unmarried minor—the consent of her parents, as a condition for terminating pregnancy in the first trimester.” In short, any child who became pregnant could dispose of it as she chose during the early months. Liberals generally tried to keep such debate over the abortion issue as occurred publicly in the austere framework of “women’s rights,” and lectured opponents against introduction emotion. Even so, resistance to elective abortion has become increasingly vocal over the years, and there is good reason to expect that it will eventually bear fruit in legal changes.
Clarence B. Carson, A Basic History of the United States, Volume 5: The Welfare State 1929-1985, pg.293-294